Sotheby’s S|2 gallery in London is hosting an exhibition of artworks in a series titled ‘The Blazing World’. The inspiration behind the title and the showcased art is drawn from a seventeenth century fictional prose of the same name, written by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle; a part of which will be reprinted in S|2’s accompanying exhibition catalogue.
The exhibition is a diverse collection of oeuvres which draw upon themes of science-fiction, utopia, ritual and the fragility of human hope and existence. The artists of which are Stano Filko, Peter Hujar, Marguerite Humeau, Charlotte Johannesson, Clementine Keith-Roach, Arik Levy, Charlotte Prodger, Paul Thek, Tishan Hsu, Nanda Vigo, Anna Zemánková.
First published in 1666, ‘The Blazing World’ is set in an imaginary utopian world, and is an early work of science-fiction, in which technological advancements such as engine-powered boats, submarines and microscopes are merely inventions of the mind. Drawing parallels from the same is Tishan Hsu’s work in which he merges the aspects of body with the visual language of technology in almost retro-futuristic ways as shown in two pieces from 1987 titled Body Battery and Low Band Width.
Another Italian female artist Nanda Vigo’s two artworks from her Chronotops series are the ones in which she explores the concept of time and space as sensory experiences. One of the aspects of Cavendish’s text covers the death and decay of an old-world order, and so does artist Paul Thek’s untitled work from 1969 which points to the measuring of flesh as an abstracted form of the body, and is often associated with war and other acts of violence against the body.